Background: Injuries are common in collegiate gymnasts. Most descriptive studies of injury patterns in collegiate gymnasts are limited in duration or are only inclusive of women.
Hypothesis: Injury patterns in men and women differ significantly; women sustain a higher rate of injuries than men.
Study design: Descriptive epidemiology study.
Level of evidence: Level 4.
Methods: Musculoskeletal and head injuries reported in the Sports Injury Monitoring System at a single National Collegiate Athletic Association institution for Division 1 men's and women's gymnastics teams between 2001 and 2011 were identified. The variables assessed included sex, injured body part, year of eligibility, injury severity, surgical procedures, missed time, and team activity at the onset of injury.
Results: From 2001 to 2011, 64 male gymnasts sustained 240 injuries, while 55 female gymnasts sustained 201 injuries. The injury incidence was 8.78 per 1000 athlete-exposures for men and 9.37 per 1000 athlete-exposures for women. Female gymnasts more commonly suffered major injuries compared with men, and more commonly underwent surgery after injury (24.4% of female injuries required surgery vs 9.2% in males). The anatomic region most often injured in men was the hand and wrist (24%). The anatomic region most often injured in women was the foot and ankle (39%). Overall, injury rates were highest in freshman-eligible athletes.
Conclusion: Injury rates, overall, were similar in men and women gymnasts. Female gymnasts more commonly underwent surgical procedures after injury. Injury rates were higher in freshman-eligible athletes and decreased with increasing year of experience.
Clinical relevance: Specific attention should be given to gymnasts transitioning into collegiate-level gymnastics; injury prevention strategies should focus on the ankle and foot, as well as the elbow, wrist, and hand.
Keywords: NCAA; athletic training; gymnastics; sports injuries.